Chargers tighten grip on Jeffco lead

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By Brian Forbes

LAKEWOOD — Billy LaGreca saw daylight. And in one kick, the midfielder gave the Chargers a little of their own.

LaGreca’s 26-yard free kick sparked Chatfield’s 3-0 victory over Green Mountain on Sept. 24, which put the Chargers a game and a half up on the pack chasing them in the Class 5A Jefferson County League.

Sure, most picked Chatfield to win Jeffco at the start of the season, but the games still must be played. And won.

The Chargers (7-2-1, 4-0-0 in Jeffco) scored all their goals in a four-minute span at Lakewood Memorial Field to stun the upstart Rams (6-2-1, 2-1-1). The opening salvo came from LaGreca’s straightaway free kick that got through the Rams’ wall and nestled inside the right post.

“I just saw an open gap on the right side and just squeezed it in there,” LaGreca said.

Dylan Hall scored two minutes later and Conrad Bess hit the back of the net two minutes after that as the Chargers extended their unbeaten streak to seven games. Starting goalkeeper Aaron Sarfaty stopped Green Mountain’s two shots and freshman keeper Tyler Anderson played the final eight minutes as the Chargers notched their sixth shutout of the season.

The Chargers have outscored their Jeffco opponents 11-0 in four games.

Chatfield was creative and persistent in its attack. The Chargers attacked from both flanks and straight up the gut. They had the Rams on their heels and limited their counterattacks to short bursts.

Right winger Cory Whittwer appeared to have a clear look on goal in just the fourth minute but his blast was blocked out for a corner kick by a Green Mountain defender.

The Chargers pried and pried again until LaGreca broke the deadlock in the 21st minute.

“We came out strong and just kept the game under control,” LaGreca said.

The Rams tried to answer but got caught by Chatfield’s counterattack. The ball was cleared from the defensive end and found Hall, who raced down the left side, shouldered his way past the last defender and cut a shot smartly past the onrushing goalkeeper.

Clearly stunned, the Rams packed it in defensively only to concede again as the Chargers played a patient possession game. The Chargers knocked the ball around either side, testing and trying the Rams before the ball was flicked into Whittwer just inside the penalty area. Whittwer angled his pass to the center where Bess ran in and poked it past the onrushing keeper.

The Chargers wouldn’t force any saves in the first half and had three shots on goal in the second half as coach Paul Moline was liberal in his substitutions and threw out a lot of different looks. No matter the shuffle, the Chargers moved the ball well and were extremely organized defensively, limiting the Rams to just a few half-chances.

It was a business-like – and effective – approach.

“We just know we had six league games and we need to win all of them to get the best seed for the playoffs,” Bess said.